Google Maps on iPhone may finally get this useful navigation feature

Google Maps app icon on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google Maps is testing a new feature that'll prove very useful for iPhones running recent versions of iOS. Once it rolls out to everyone.

The feature that's reportedly coming to Google Maps is Live Activities, an ability that arrived as part of 2022's iOS 16 update. This allows apps to display updatable information on the phone's lock screen, plus in the Dynamic Island and the always-on display too if your iPhone has that feature.

As you might expect, the Google Maps version uses this to show your current step, as well as an overall progress bar, according to users on Reddit (via 9to5Google) and tipster Max Jambor, who have found themselves with the feature enabled.

A photo showing Google Maps live activities on the lock screen of an iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: 3BEP6_ / Reddit)

Don't worry if you've not got it yet. Even some users who have tried it out say the feature was removed shortly afterward, so testing is clearly ongoing and still limited. Also, you need to have the Glanceable Directions setting enabled while navigating in the app. You'll find that by tapping on your profile picture in the main Google Maps screen, then by going to Settings, then to Navigation.

Screenshots showing how to enable the Glanceable Directions setting in Google Maps

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A long time coming

Google seems to have been working on Glanceable Directions for the iOS version of Google Maps since 2023, when code for the feature was first discovered in the app. A similar feature is already live in Maps on Android, although again you have to enable the feature yourself in the in-app settings.

Having directions pop up for you to easily read and follow without needing to unlock your phone every time is an obvious use case for Apple's Live Activities feature. It's something that Apple Maps already does. But for whatever reason, Google's really taking its time with this, despite having added and tested many other features over the past few months like better in-app info on EV charging stations, recommended attractions list for certain cities and AI translation and planning, plus markers for building entrances.

If you're one of the lucky ones who can already use Google Maps Live Activities, we're very jealous. For everyone else (including everyone on staff at TG with an iPhone), we're probably going to have to wait for the full release. Fingers crossed that this comes at least in time for the launch of iOS 18, expected to debut this June at WWDC 2024.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.